Beware the Drumpercrock


Apologies to Lewis Carroll     

’Twas votecrack, and the Cheese’d of Skin

Did Grump and Twitter in the night:

All Klimsy’d were his alt-right views,

And Nasty Women gave him fright.


“Beware the Drumpercrock, my girl!

The clod that bite, the maw that’s jabber!

Beware the Orangefaced Turd, and shun

The furious Pussygrabb’r!”


Took Vorpal pen in Tiny hand;

Ponscumm’d Bad Hombres that he sought—

So dozed he with Deplorebull’d fools

And drooled he there in Fuddled Thought.


And, as in pompous glare he stood,

The Drumpercrock, with Eyes of Bulge,

Came whiffling through the Golfcan Yuge,

Miss-spelling as it Grease-ly stomped!


One, two! three! six! Want cheeseburger! he whimpered Zwill,

His Vorpal cellphone insecure!

His SackPence blumph, intellect nil!

He jowls galumphing, “Crooked Hill!”


“And hast thou tamed the Drumpercrock?

Let’s build that wall, my Bigly boy!

O frabjous pee! CovfeeFeeFee!”

He Bannon’ed in his Frittled Sploy.


’Twas horr’bl, and the Cheese’d of Skin

His Putin o’er the grumbll sailed:

Flimsie’d t’were the old white men — SAD! —

And pink pussy tuques prevailed.

— macfayden nov. 9 2017


Post-script: This open-mic poetry event was a blast. Thanks to the Almanac for the always-groovy space, and to MC extraordinaire Michael Gravel and the Raving Poets Band for bringing the magic. Meanwhile, the Old Trout Puppet Workshop is back in town with its own peculiar version of Jabberwocky at the Roxy, 8529 Gateway Blvd, through Nov. 26. Liz Nicholls sets it up over at her 12th Night blog.


canada (palindrome)

it was so different in the ’70s
it was plaid bellbottoms and sideburns
it was draft dodging and october crisis
it was fresh science and a whole nation beating the soviets in hockey
we were so much more than prisons and fighter jets
we were clean and polite and happily multicultural
we sewed maple leafs on our backpacks
we were not called terrorists for loving trees
we were not called terrorists. we made love under trees.
we sewed maple leafs and were allowed water in our backpacks.
we were clean and polite and didn’t have to think about polar bears.
we were so much more than hockey.
we fought prisons and were proud of our scientists.
it was draft dodging and quebec questioning.
it was plaid bellbottoms and not burning sides.
it was so different in the ’70s.

‘thank you, this is the worst thing i’ve read’

Spam, wonderful spam!

I just got a lovely gift from someone named “buymicrosoftoffice2011” who clearly made a big booboo (or not) and instead of launching one random option from the Worldwide Fake Comment Generator in Spatherdab’s direction, unleashed ALL of the fake comments from Yoda’s House of Interweb Praise and Pain. I’m particularly fond of “you’re a big lad,” “the article simply disgusting” and “You are the worst writer.”


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(Still haven’t reached your spam quota? This should fix that)

Top 30 things I love about Edmonton

See, here’s the thing. I do not like winter. It does not agree with me. It depresses me, it makes me cold and cranky and ornery and sad.
So why do I reside in a city that is occupied by winter for a minimum of five months each year? And not just mild winter; HARSH winter. The kind of winter that renders sidewalks so icy they are hip-fracturingly treacherous; the kind of winter where the daily temperature forecast comes with an automatic ‘feels like’ number called Wind Chill that has made me weep on occasion. The kind of winter that means seven hours of daylight per day – on a good day – between now and next March. The kind of winter that means parkas, toques, mitts, scarves, fleece vests and lined, industrial-strength boots. Where fashion accessories include snow shovels, snow blowers, ice scrapers, hand warmers, flannel sheets and crampons.
Why do I live here? Yup. That’s a damn good question.
But I’ve lived here for 27 years. So there must be something keeping me here. It’s just that, when my relatives from Down East ask (as they inevitably do after having visited me during late November 2007 when the temperature didn’t rise above minus 23 – feels like minus 33! – for the entire duration of their stay) Why do you stay there? I have trouble articulating an answer.

Because, frankly, it’s hell for half the year. And if the other half is, as a former colleague used to say on an annoyingly regular basis, six months of potholes and bad skiing (not to mention the mosquito factor), why do I stay?

The prime reason is, of course, friends. I have an amazing assortment of super amazing friends here, so whenever I start to believe that it might be pleasant (and possibly even artistically more lucrative) to move somewhere with a better climate (literally, politically, culturally – pick any that apply) I am reminded that if I were to leave this place, I would be leaving behind a wonderful tribe of people whom I love and by whom i am loved. That is no small thing.

Not my idea of a good time.

But there must be other factors that make the place bearable, yes? Absolutely. Because I don’t ski, and nor do I skate; and while I am in fact very much a “sweater person,” I do not enjoy having to wear wool and turtlenecks every day from mid-October to the end of April (and sometimes through the May long weekend).

So for the past several months I’ve been making a list of the things that I like, in fact (dare I say?) LOVE about Edmonton. And I decided to launch this list here in this blog on the day the first snowfall announced the arrival of Winter 2011. Which is today. Sadly. (Although, not so sadly, it could have arrived on a day in mid-October. Or even earlier. So, thank goddess for small mercies.)

Throughout the next few weeks I will list one thing a day that I love about Etown. As you may have surmised, there is nothing winter-related on this list. OK, maybe one thing – but you will have to wait for another day to find out what that is. (Hint – it’s got nothing to do with the Oilers.)

This list is in no particular order, by the way. And a lot of it is going to be about food. Which is my prerogative because I like food … and food is a great thing to share with friends … and it’s MY LIST.

So here goes: kicking things off is (drumroll, please) …

1. The Sugarbowl Cafe.

Located in the Garneau neighbourhood (10922 88 Ave.) next to Red Bike and a stone’s throw from the High Level Diner, the Sugarbowl is historic and cozy and has a great patio. It has an extensive beer list. It offers smoked paprika popcorn + lime (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – and then you will be forever hooked, like me).
It is famous for its cinnamon buns (get there first thing or you’ll be disappointed) and it has lovely warm, dark wood and local art on the walls.
It’s comfortable in the most literal sense of the word.
And though it’s only a few blocks from campus, you don’t have to be a U of A student to hang out there. Lots of writers, in fact, hang out and write there.

I have sipped many a kriek (Belgian cherry beer) on the Sugarbowl patio. I have gotten sunburned on the Sugarbowl patio. I have plotted world travels (and my world takeover) over lattes on the Sugarbowl patio.
And once I found a $20 bill on the Sugarbowl patio.

Did I mention the patio?

Pomme frites, hummus & pita, yam fries, cheese plate … the eclectic menu (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner) has enough options to satisfy carnivores and vegetarians alike. Plus, the proprietors get their eggs and meats from local farms. Other bonuses: sometimes there are beer tastings; live music has been known to break out.

And while parking in that area can be a challenge, the Sugarbowl is easily accessible via public transit: the number 9 bus stops less than half a block away on 109 Street.

One down, 29 to go.

why don’t dreams speak english

(revised for november 11, 2011)

why don’t dreams speak english
why do i crave coffee and salt
why can’t two or more lovers
vie for my affection with flowers
sonnets, chocolate, pearls
& boat trips down the seine

why don’t we hold hands anymore

why don’t we give people names to war games
like we do with hurricanes:
peggy sue instead of desert storm,
sam & dave
instead of shock & awe
(it might be hard to take all this fighting seriously
if patriot missiles were called emily
& soldiers were all called sarah)
why don’t we search with flashlights
for kindnesses
instead of with big tanks
for more things to destroy

why are my eyes so red
where have all the flowers gone
who knows where the time goes
does anybody really know what time it is?
why do i eat when i’m not hungry
why don’t i just sleep when i’m too tired to stand
when did i get so naive
when did i first practice to deceive
when did i let myself go

and what the christ happened to our prayer flags?

who’s in charge
who goes first
whose is biggest …

who won
who won

who won, dammit, WHO WON?


what does it matter;
everyone’s still so bloody scared

& can somebody please explain to the virtual jarhead
in the back of the room
the killer irony of lining up to buy a videogame
that lets us make sport of the brutality of war
on the eve of remembrance day?

where’s the love? / that’s your call of duty
where’s the love? / that’s your call of duty
where’s the love? / yes sir, that’s your call of duty

hell, why can’t somebody just invent a peace bomb?

and jesus

if there’s really a wise & loving god,
why does everybody look so fucking sad?

hostel hostility

OK, it’s official, i am not a people person. which i had kinda suspected for most of the last half-century but … staying at backpacker hostels has confirmed it.
sharing kitchen and bathroom space with other frugal-minded travellers with varying standards of cleanliness and etiquette and privacy considerations does not bring out the best in moi. like, just now, while i am quietly attempting to compose this blog post, a young bearded fellow has picked up a guitar and started to strum it. right in front of me. in MY space. and i don’t feel like hearing that just now, thank you very much. but, rather than throw my jandal at his inconsiderate head, i will merely sigh and conclude this snippet with something i just copied off the wall in the eating lounge:

The way to happiness is:

Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply; give much. Fill your life with love.

Do as you would be done by.


bartlet for america

so when exactly was it determined that we want ordinary people in the white house?

it was dad-gum embarrassing to hear clips of sarah palin’s “goshdarnit this” and “doggonit that” during the american veep debate last week. do her handlers truly think america wants/needs elly-may clampett a heartbeat away from the oval office? the whole point of electing leaders is that they have demonstrated AN ABILITY TO LEAD. i do not want a “regular” “average” “ordinary” “joe sixpack” or “joe lunchbucket” anywhere near the white house, or as PM of canada for that matter.

forgive me, but i want important political decisions that are going to affect my future — and the future of this seriously troubled planet — to be made by intelligent, articulate, well-educated people with an understanding of foreign affairs, economics, climate change and social issues; people who get that freedom of religion includes freedom FROM religion. i would be really impressed if the candidates knew MORE about all of these issues than i do. yet, strangely, intelligence in a candidate has somewhere along the way become a negative thing. intellectual = elitist = too hoity-toity for The Average Voter to understand or appreciate. in canada, some people seem to think that wearing a sweater makes you look more like a warm-and-fuzzy “ordinary” citizen and therefore deserving of a majority government. i have nothing against sweaters, in fact i own quite a few of them, but if i ever run for office i sincerely hope that people don’t vote for me merely because i shop at eddie bauer.

i recently heard somebody theorizing that american voters liked george w. bush because they felt he was someone they could sit down and have a beer with. that “ordinary joe” thing. i don’t know how true that is — but it did seem to work for ralph klein here in severely normal alberta. up in good ol’ snow white alaska, just this side of russia, ms. palin — she of all those doggone main-street yankee values like moose-hunting, book-banning and revenge-firing — seems to genuinely believe that she’s qualified for the vice-presidency of the united states of america because, gee whiz, she is able to find a soccer field with an SUV! and there are people who applaud her for this.

sorry, but i don’t think being a soccer mom or a hockey dad demonstrates that you are qualified for anything except maybe capable doing a lot of laundry and treating a dozen rug rats to an occasional post-tournament pizza.

and should you really cast your vote for someone on the basis of how much of a “regular joe” they are; regular as in they are fun to have a drink with because they drink coors and not cab sav? i know a lot of people who are really fun to drink with, but i wouldn’t want any of them near the red phone when the planet is invaded by aliens; or having the power to decide whether i should be allowed to have an abortion or marry a same-sex partner. why? because they’re ordinary. and being the leader of a nation and making those kinds of decisions is not ordinary work. it takes brains, and integrity, and a sense of fairness, and justice, and tolerance, and enthusiasm and a special kind of energy and vision and passion and compassion … and that is why most of us are not qualified to do it. most of us, thankfully, recognize this, and that is why we are so glad and grateful when that rare someone comes along who IS qualified to do it.

one of the recurring side themes on the now-defunct West Wing television show involved the fear that u.s. president jed bartlet was “too smart,” and the concern (from within his own party) that his intelligence might be held against him on election day — people don’t want a smarty-pants in the white house, after all.

frankly, i’ll take a smarty-pants over an “ordinary joe” any day.

it is not unreasonable to expect some measure of the extraordinary, of the exceptional, from the people who want to lead your country into the future. from the people who are asking for your vote.

your plain, old, ordinary vote.

remember this on october 14.
spare us the ordinary.
vote smart.

for all the rude people

when i was in grade 6 i loved those alfred hitchcock collections full of murder mysteries and quirky tales of the macabre. so when john lavallee offered to swap me a 50-cent paperback hitchcock anthology for a bic pen, i didn’t waste any time saying yes.

the book featured lots of neat dark stories … many of them i still remember. one in particular has stayed with me for almost four decades. i don’t recall the author’s name but the title was “For All The Rude People.” It was about a guy who decided to wreak a little vigilante justice (e.g. death) to people he observed treating other people like crap.

now I’m not about to take things that far, but I do find myself thinking about the character in that story more and more these days. particularly when i’m on the bus. because stepping onto an edmonton transit bus seems to turn otherwise polite citizens into completely insensitive, inconsiderate dorks. so i’ve decided this behaviour should not go unpunished. don’t worry, i’m not going to follow you to the end of the line and kill you, like the fellow in the alfred hitchcock story did. but i am going to rant about you and your ignorant, offensive, childish behaviour in this blog from time to time, in the hope that pointing out your social flaws helps improve your manners and ultimately makes the world a better place.

let’s start with this afternoon, when i was on my way home from the drugstore. the bus was full, but since i didn’t have very far to go, i didn’t mind standing near the back. however, an elderly gentleman boarded the bus a few minutes later, and he also ended up having to stand because there were no empty seats.

i did a quick scan of the seated passengers in the front half of the bus. there were at least six white males, all clearly under the age of 30. sitting. yep, six able-bodied strapping young men remained in their seats while a senior citizen stood unsteadily in the aisle.

eventually someone stood and offered a seat to the grey-haired gent. but it wasn’t any of the young men. it was a young woman in her 20s.

now if you’re about to suggest that feminism is to blame for the death of common courtesy, think again. this isn’t about men opening doors for women, or lighting their cigarettes. this is about people being courteous to each other, period. when seniors, or disabled persons, or pregnant women, or women with kids in strollers board the bus, and you’ve got two working legs, act like you’ve still got the good sense the goddess gave you and GIVE UP YOUR SEAT. it’s not rocket surgery. (and oh, move your backpack off the seat beside you, too. why should your bag ride when someone else is forced to stand?)

next on the hit list is celebrity hat etiquette: when you play for the oilers, and you’re dining in public, take your freakin’ baseball cap off at the table. i don’t care how much money you make not scoring goals, dude, it is grossly disrespectful to wear your hat to the table. it suggests you were born in a barn, and lack even the most basic of social skills. so unless you’re camping, or at a barbecue, lose the lid. An NHL contract is not a licence to behave like a boor. like it or not, you’re a role model to some of the kids in this town, so here’s an idea: act like your momma raised you right.

another public transit horror: i recently overheard two young dudes, both of whom appeared to be around the age of 20, chatting while they blocked the back doors of a bus (infraction No. 1: don’t stand in front of the doors. It’s an exit, not a dance floor). one guy very loudly said to the other: “hey, d’ya wanna know how to fix your dishwasher?” the other guy said “how?” & the first guy roared: “HIT HER!!!” at which point they both laughed uproariously, like this was the funniest thing either of them had ever heard.

now listen up, assholes: sexism is not funny. physical abuse is not funny. domestic violence is not funny. it’s a crying shame that in this day and age, boys like you are still somehow picking up signals that it’s not merely OK to beat up the women in your lives, it’s downright amusing.

that is way beyond rude, gentlemen. it’s a disgrace.

dishonorable mention: to the large sweaty guy in the “overworked and underf*ked” T-shirt — here’s a quarter, go out and buy a clue. you wanna get lucky? try being a lot less vulgar. a walking billboard for profanity may work in the WWF, but it doesn’t exactly send out “man of your dreams” vibes, sugar.